Introduction: Tygra's Bolo-Whip With Paracord in 16 Plait
ThunderCats HOOOOOO. So when I was a kid one of the greatest shows ever was the old reruns of ThunderCats. That show had a lot of iconic weapons, from Liono’s Sword of Omens, to Panthro’s red and blue cat paw nunchucks. For this instructable I am going to be making Tygra’s Bolo Whip. This whip is one of a kind and only ever seen in this show. The whip is basically a bolo (aka bola or bolas) at the end of a whip, and so using this style of whip Tygra is able to wrap up his enemies and subdue them. I will be making a version of this whip that is as close as I can get to the original that we see in the show.
My goal with this whip, as well as this Instructable, is to combine a variety of whip making and paracord tying techniques into a single awesome build. In order to make this whip I will be doing a three tailed design like can be seen in my previous instructable but with modifications. I will be making the handle as a separate piece that attaches to the end of the thong of the whip. This should more closely match what we see of the whip in the show while using a method seen in modern nylon whips. To attach the balls at the end of the whip I will be tying monkeys fists to the end of the three tails. In order to accomplish that, when I make the tails in the bellies I’ll bring the 550 cord all the way out the end of the tails and using it to make the monkey’s fists. I believe making the balls at the ends of the tails in this way will make them as solid and secure as possible.
Going into this project, I know this whip wont make any kind of crack like a whip normally would. This whip is a fantasy weapon and as such doesn’t serve a real practical purpose outside of cosplay. By combining a whip and a bolo in this manner it kind of defeats the purpose and function of either. Never the less, its cool, and this Bolo Whip will look awesome with any kind of ThunderCats cosplay. If you are a ThunderCats fan or just want a fun whip build, keep reading, this is going to be awesome.
- Whip Maker’s Cord https://www.theparacordstore.com/whipmaker.html
- 550 Cord https://www.theparacordstore.com/550-paracord.html
- 1/2 inch CPVC tubing and a coupler
- PVC Cement
- 28mm Bouncy Balls
- Gold Spray Paint
- Hockey Tape https://www.amazon.com/Black-Hockey-Tape-Sticks-G...
- Artificial Sinew https://www.amazon.com/Single-Black-Beading-Threa...
- Paraffin Wax
- Jet Lighter https://www.amazon.com/Single-Lighter-Windproof-Re...
- Vice https://www.harborfreight.com/2-1-2-half-inch-tab...
- Tape Measure
- Lacing Needle https://www.amazon.com/Multi-Color-Stitching-Jig-...
- Utility knife
- Hack Saw
- Metal straight edge or ruler
- Roaster Oven https://www.walmart.com/ip/Oster-18-Quart-Red-Roas...
- Thermometer (an IR thermometer is handy but anything works)
- Tongs or something to lift the whip out of hot wax
- Rags or paper towels
- Gloves (I use nitrile gloves over cotton glove liners)
Step 1: Planning
As with my first Instructable, sorry in advanced for how lengthy this section is.
For this build I am going to do a 2 belly design, with a 16 plait overlay, similar to my last 3 tail build for the Balrog whip, if you haven’t seen that Instructable check it out https://www.instructables.com/3-Tailed-24-Plait-Pa.... However there are two key ways in which this whip is drastically different, the tails and the handle. The tails for this whip are going to end in monkeys fists. In order to accommodate this, we’ll need to account for the extra length needed not only to finish the monkey’s fists, but also give ourselves enough length and slack to actually tie the knot. We also need something to put in the center of the fists. For the handle we’ll need to make something separate from the thong of the whip and then attach the two pieces together. This can get a little tricky when you dont have a shop or garage to work out of.
For the monkey’s fists my plan is to incorporate the red 550 that is going to make up the fists into the final belly that makes the tails. Additionally I will also be using blue 550 cord to help hide everything at the transition to the tails. So just like in the Balrog whip I made, there will be six strands getting paired up to make the tails. I want to do the pairs in red and blue, with the red going inside the blue in order to keep the red hidden up until it comes out the end of the tails at what would normally be the fall hitch. In order to make that work more easily, the three longest lengths of cord in the tails will have to be half red and half blue, with all of the red to one side and all of the blue to the other side, that’ll make more sense when I show you how I set that up. With all of the excess red 550 coming out the end I can then make the monkey’s fists and know that they will be inseparable from the tails. The thought had occurred to me to simply tie on the red cord like you would a fall, but I see some issues with that. Typically the fall is made by lacing the cord in on itself to make the loop that attaches to the fall hitch. I would rather that the cord the makes up the fists not be double thick, I just think it’ll make for a more chunky monkey’s fist. That being said I did a small test piece and found it’ll work ok if you wanted to go that route, but for this one I want to go the integrated route. Also I need something to put inside the monkey’s fist in order to give it shape and size. You can use anything from marbles to ball bearings, but to keep it more, shall we say “User Friendly”, I am going to use rubber bouncy balls. These are cheep, easy to get and less likely to hurt someone. And by someone, I mean me.
The handle is the part that I can’t do the way that I want to. What I really want to do requires a lathe, and living in an apartment doesn’t really allow me to have tools that make that kind of noise and mess. I’ll link to one of Nick’s recent videos where he shows how to make a wooden handled whip to give you an idea of what I would prefer to do. Essentially for this whip I would prefer to go that route but instead of using wood I would start with some kind of epoxy resin that could be made the golden color that more closely matches the original that we see in the cartoon source material. The epoxy could be cast and then turned on a lathe to the finished shape. Then I would likely still include the ferule that Nick uses in that video, though I‘d go with a brass one.
Since I dont have the tools to make that work, I’ll go with the slightly less fabulous option, PVC. Or rather CPVC in this case. There is another video I can link to that will give you an idea of how to make this work but basically I’ll be building the whip in such a way that leaves two strands hanging off the handle end, and those two strands will be used to tie the whip to a handle made of CPVC. This is also similar to the way that Cow Whips are made, they have a wooden handle with a socket at the end and the loose strands from the thong of the whip tie the thong into the socket of the wooden handle. Also for this whip, looking at pictures of the whip from the cartoon the handle is of a uniform thickness and isn’t much longer that Tygra’s fist is wide. So with those details in mind, I’ll make the handle about 8 or 9 inches long and the strands attaching the thong to the handle will wrap with a grape vine hitch part of the way down the handle with a typical herring bone plait covering everything else. One note of caution though about PVC and CPVC. When waxing your whip its typical to have the wax at 200F, any more than that and CPVC will get soft and deform. At 140F regular PVC will also get squishy. When using CPVC it may be best to keep the wax just under 200F, and with regular PVC I would wax the thong separately and then just not wax the handle at all.
Of course another option would be to simply not make the handle a separate piece at all. If so inclined the overlay could be done in a color that is completely different from the rest of the whip, then you just cover the transition between the two colors with a traditional transition knot. This is a vary common thing to do and would work fine with this whip, however its not quite true to this whips origins. That being said if you want to give it a try I’ll link to a video that demonstrates really well how to make it work. Or if you want to, just make it all the same color like you see in my previous Instructables and then just focus on the bolo balls at the ends of the tails. The end result will still be pretty awesome. I would then just use gold or yellow cord for both a transition and heel knot.
One other option I had considered for the handle on this one would be to purchase a spent 20mm Vulcan brass casing (20x102mm) and then drilling out the primer pocket and threading it. The thong could then be built over an all thread core and attached to the brass casing by simply stuffing it in the neck of the casing and threading the core into the threaded primer pocket, and securing it in place with thread lock. The brass casing when polished would almost perfectly match the cartoon, but its a little short for a handle. Making it work though would require a 3/8ths all thread rod to fit the primer pocket and that may be a bit thick. Maybe I’ll try this with a smaller version of this whip, or perhaps a completely different whip some other time.
For this whip I am going to go for a 6 foot overall length. I figure for this one I’ll include the handle in the overall length, and then to better match the original from the cartoon I’ll just do one foot tails going to the monkey’s fists. If I was doing the handle like I would with a normal bull whip, having it integrated to the thong, I would plan to do this as a 24 plait whip going down to 12 plait where it splits to the tails. But since I’ll be using a CPVC handle, I’ll need to work out what starting plait count is going to work for this whip. Then while I would typically try to develop an even taper, since this whip will never make a real crack anyways, its not much of a concern. So if it winds up with zero taper thats fine, and incidentally would more closely match what we see in the show. So after getting the materials in hand and doing a test piece I figured out my recipe.
CPVC is smaller in diameter than standard schedule 40 PVC. Half inch CPVC has an outer diameter of about 5/8 (0.625) inches and regular schedule 40 half inch PVC is more like 7/8 inches (0.85). While regular schedule 40 PVC will work just fine, it would also make for a very chunky handle. I purchased the CPVC from Home Depot where they sell two foot sections, and then I also got couplings as well (this stuff is super cheap for the quantities needed to make a whip so buy a bunch). The test piece I worked up is a tight fit in the coupling but with some heavy rolling it’ll fit as well as I need it to. The first belly is going to be 8 plait 550 cord, the second will be 12 plait 550 cord. What makes this a snug fit is that I do the overlay with my favorite, the 3/16 Whipmaker’s Cord, in 16 plait. Knowing that the bellies and overlay are going to be 8, 12, and 16 plait, I can then work out my drops and then strand lengths.
The first belly is going to have 8 drops, the second will have 6 drops, and the overlay winds up only having 4 strands getting dropped. The overall length of this whip will be 72 inches, including the handle of 8 inches and the 1 foot tails. Disregarding the tails and handle gives us 52 inches. With that in mind I’m going to take the first belly out to 50 inches. Because I dont care about having a long smooth taper with this whip I am going to not bother with tapering until 30 inches. Kind of arbitrary, but it gives 20 inches to make 8 drops. 20 divided by 8 gives a drop interval of 2.5 inches. From that I can work out that my drops will be at 32.5, 35, 37.5, 40, 42.5, 45, 47.5 and 50 inches. Because every two drops are one length of paracord, and we can estimate we need double to length to reach our drop, I take every second drop and multiply by 4 to get the cut length in inches. Divide by 12 and round up to get that in feet and I come up with 12, 13.5, 15 and 17 feet lengths of 550 cord for the first belly.
For the second belly, things get a tiny bit trickier. I need it to go from starting in 12 plait to then being in 6 plait when it splits to the tails at 52 inches. So that means it’ll make 6 drops between 30 and 52 inches. To do the math I need to account for the strands left over for the tails so I’ll be dividing by 7 drops instead of 6. So 52 minus the 30 that wont be tapered is 22, then 22 divided by 7 is 3.1 ish. From that I can work out the six drops to be 33.1, 36.2, 39.3, 42.4, 45.5, and 48.6. Running the math like before that gives me the strand lengths of 12, 14.5 and 16.5. Now for the strands that are going to make the tails. I’m doing them in both blue and red, with the red to be laced inside the blue and coming out the ends. The tails are going to end at 64 inches, so I can run the math and determine that I need twice 64 for the blue, so I’ll say 11 feet. But then the red needs to be longer for the monkeys fists, some testing lead to me finding that I’m gonna need about 8 feet in order to have enough slack to make the monkey’s fists. So adding that to the 11 feet I already know I’ll need, and then rounding up because paracord is cheap, we’ll say 20 feet. The red and blue lengths will be joined together by melting and fusing the ends and then all of the red strands will be plaited in the same direction.
Finally the overlay is going to be 16 plait, again the taper starting after 30 inches, and I’ll only be making 4 drops to get from 16 plait to 12 plait where the tails start. My math gives me drops at every 4.4 inches. So that works out to 34.4, 38.8, 43.2 and 47.6. After that the remaining strands end at 64 inches with the ends of the tails. So my strands work out to 13 and 16 feet, with then 6 strands all cut to 22 feet.
As I’m making each layer I’ll measure what gets cut away as the strands get dropped and provide the revised strand lengths in each step of the build.
And now if I haven’t lost you yet, we can actually get to work.
Step 2: First Belly
To start this belly we first need two lengths of cord that will make up the core inside the belly. These will also be the two lengths that attach the thong to the handle so I ordered some gold paracord for these strands (to be honest I was hoping this cord would be more metallic and shiny). I want to give myself plenty of cord to tie the thong to the handle so I’ll give myself three feet, or 36 inches. Inside the core of the first belly I want one strand to end at 30 inches where the taper begins and I’ll have the second end at 40 inches where the first belly drops to 4 plait. So all that to say we need the lengths to be 66 and 76 inches and the inner gut strands need to be removed. With two of the ends matched up the next thing to do will be to bind the two cords together at the 36 inch mark, and that finishes the core.
The four lengths we mathed out to make the belly are 12, 13.5, 15 and 17 so we’ll cut and gut those next. Bellies are a good place to play with different color combinations or use up any random cord you wouldn’t otherwise use elsewhere, so just grab whatever cord is handy (not gonna lie, this blue and yellow camo is giving me some hawaiian shirt vibes, kinda diggin it). It may be helpful for you to mark the center of the cords with a sharpie. Position the two core strands in a vice with the binding hanging out such that you have an opening formed by the two cords. Pass the four lengths of cord between the two core strands above the binding, with two lengths to each side. For this next bit the pictures may be easiest to follow. Basically we just move the four strands in back to the front one at a time until we can start plaiting under 2 over 2. Starting on the right, take the top strand in back and pull it to the front, under 1 over 1, and swing it to the left. Then from the left bring the top back strand through to the front right, under 1 over 2. And then from the right with the remaining back strand, under 2 over 1. And the finally from the back left, under 2 over 2. And with that we are now set to being plaiting like normal with the strand from the top left and bringing it around back and to the front, under 2 over 2, in a normal herring bone plait. Then the same with the right and so on.
Continue plaiting in 8 plait, under 2 over 2, until the first drop at 32.5 inches. With every drop just keep going but leave the shortest strand out and keep braiding without it. Once you’ve plaited past it a few inches you can trim off the excess and then use a lighter to melt the cut end then press it into the belly. The next drops are at 35, 37.5 and 40. At about an inch past the drop at 40 inches I use some thread to tie off the braid in order to keep it from coming undone (when I get to the same spot with the next belly I’ll cut out the thread to prevent there being a kink in that spot). The four remaining strands then get cut at 42.5, 45, 47.5 and 50 inches. After that just give the belly a good hard rolling in between two solid surfaces. I use two cheap cutting boards with a chunk of rubber to keep stuff from sliding around, some people use a plank over a hard wood or concrete floor. With that done, we can move to the second belly which is mostly the same but with the split to the tails.
By the way, after finishing the first belly and measuring how much excess cord I trimmed away from the dropped strands, the revised strand lengths I came up with are 9.5, 11, 11.5 and 12.5 feet. In total thats 44.5 feet of cord, plus the two core strands you should budget for 57 feet of cord.
Step 3: Second Belly
For this belly things start off much the same as the last. To begin with cut and gut blue cord in lengths of 12, 14.5, 16.5 feet and three at 11 feet. Then in red we need three lengths of 20 feet, also cut and gutted. If you want to use a different color for the three lengths that dont get fused you can, that would make it easier to determine which ones are the strands that get dropped. The first three lengths get positioned just like the strands of the previous belly. But then we need to fuse the red strands and the three 11 foot blue strands before positioning them with the other strands. To do this we just heat the ends with a lighter and squish them together. Personally I prefer to use some pliers to squeeze the melted bits together before they cool, it just ensures a solid bond and also draws the heat out instantly. With the three new lengths put together and placed in position we can get started plaiting.
To make this work we need all of the red strands going the same direction, so we need to have all of those strands on the same side and orientation. Just like with the first belly we need to get the strands in the back into position in the front. Starting on the right, take the top strand and pull it through to the front, under 1 over 2. Then from the left, pull the top back strand through, under 1 over 3. From the right, under 2 over 2. From the left under 2 over 3. From the right under 3 over 2. And then that just leaves taking the last strand on the left and pulling it forward under 3 over 3. That completes the setup, now just take the strand in the top left and bring it around back and begin plaiting under 3 over 3. As you plait the next several strands you’ll also want to pull them tight to cinch them in place. Just be careful to not break where the strands are fused together. Keep plaiting until 33.1 inches and make the first drop with the shortest strand. After that the next drops are going to be at 36.2, 39.3, 42.4, 45.5 and 48.6. In the next step I’ll lay out how to make the split into tails.
Also for this belly after dropping the six strands and measuring what was left I came up with the revised strand lengths of 11, 12, 13.5 and three of 9 and 18. That makes for a total of 125.5.
Step 4: Three Way Split
So this is the part where the whole setup with the three red lengths of cord makes sense. The first belly ends at 50 inches and then the strands get twisted at 51 and laced together at 52. To setup for this, right after dropping the last strand to go from 7 plait to 6 plait I start plaiting single strand diamonds, over under over on both sides. This will get the strands oriented in such way that they can be paired off. After two inches diamonds, at 51 inches, we’re finally done plaiting and just need to make the tails.
Begin by passing the two top strands from each side around the back as if to continue the braid but dont bring them to the front. At this point we can see that having the red strands all together in the same direction gave us the setup to pair each one off with a blue strand without any of the tails being two of the same color. Using a few sets of hemostats secure the pairs on the left and right, we’ll start with twisting the pair right in front. Since I’m starting with the blue strand on top coming from right to left, the red and blue strands will get twisted on each other counter clockwise while the individual strands are twisted clockwise. We call this a counter twist, just like making rope. After an inch of this the next step is to lace the two strands together, with the red into the blue. But first, measure one foot past the twist and cut the blue strand. This should put the blue strand ending at 64 inches. With that done lace a needle onto the end of the red cord and insert it into the blue strand at the end of the twist. Pull it through while addressing any twists and tangles in the red cord as you pull it through. Make sure everything is cinched and secure and then move onto the next one, its the same process for each of the three tails.
With all three tails finished there was a lot of the red cord still left after all of the plaiting in the belly so I trimmed a little of the excess off the end, about two foot . The only thing left to do with this belly done is to give it a good rolling. The next step will be plaiting the overlay and tying the monkey’s fists on each tail, then its on to the handle.
Step 5: The Overlay
The time has come for the final layer of the thong. For this layer we’ll be using Whipmaker’s Cord in blue and plaiting in 16 plait. After dropping four strands to get to 12 plait we’ll be splitting the 12 strands into 4 plait per tail. But to get started we of course need to cut our 8 lengths, in feet they’re 13, 16 and then six strands cut to 22 feet. The target lengths to make the drops at are going to be 34.4, 38.8, 43.2 and 47.6. The drops dont need to be spot on, just close. If you think things are getting crowded then go ahead and drop a strand sooner.
Starting the plaiting on this layer isn’t really any different from the bellies, there is just more strands to work with. So with the center of the lengths in place, four lengths to each side, I’ll start again from the top right. From the top right under 1 over 3. From the left under 1 over 4. From the right under 2 over 3. From the left under 2 over 4. From the right under 3 over 3. From the left under 3 over 4. From the right under 4 over 3. And then finally from the left under 4 over 4. From here we just snug everything up and then get going with a regular herringbone in under 4 over 4 on both sides.
With the 16 plait going, under 4 over 4 on each side, just keep it going until the first drop around 34.4 inches. For the overlay drops you just plait one or two strands past the shortest strand, then swing the shortest strand down to front and center and keep plaiting over it. After plaiting an inch or two cut the strand and then melt and fuse it to the belly. After you make the first two drops, if you like you can flip the whip over and reverse the strands. This will setup the plaiting so that you can avoid any doubled up strands in the plaiting that would break up the clean lines of the plaiting. Or instead of doing all of that, when you’re in under 4 over 3 just switch to under 3 over 4 on each side and keep going.
When you get to the twists, it’ll be time to switch up the plaiting to two strand diamonds. Just like with the last belly, but with two strands at a time you just plait over 2 under 2 over 2 on each side. Doing this will setup the strands the way we need them for the split into tails. If you want the transition to diamonds to look a little cleaner you can use Face Plait (http://www.whipinfo.com/faceplait/?id=249565c5a2368764dde107dc6d825445) to work out a good way to make it work. Keep going in diamonds until you’re just past the twists of the tails.
At about the 52 inch mark, the two sets of two strands at the top of both sides will be passed around the back of the whip continuing the braid but not brought all the way to the front, just like we did with the final strands of the last belly. This is to position them to the sides to align with two of the tails respectively. Once positioned, clip them in place with your hemostats. The goal here is to go from the 2 strand diamonds to having 2 sets of 2 strands to each of the 3 tails. This will set up each tail to begin a 4 plait herringbone braid for each tail.
Now we can begin plaiting the tails individually, I recommend starting each one and plaiting for an inch or so and then going back one at a time to plait all the way to the end of the tail. If you feel like you want to go back and tighten anything up at the split it’ll be easier to only undo an inch than to undo the whole tail. To start each tail we’ll have 3 sets of 4 strands. With 2 strands going to our left and 2 strands to our right at each tail. Looking at the setup for one tail, 2 strands will be laying over the other 2 going the other direction. Take the top strand of the 2 strands that are behind the others, and bring it around back and over both of the strands on the other side. Take your time and pull everything tight. Now you’re set to just continue in 4 plait, under 1 over 1 on each side. From here its just plait until you reach the end of the blue cord and then tie everything off. Normally this would be finished off with a fall hitch so thats basically what we’re doing here. Go ahead and tie off the first three strands with simple hitches like you would with regular fall hitch. That last strand will be tied off like the rest but then laced under the first hitch to hold the whole knot in place. Repeated again with each tail, the overlay is now complete, for the most part. Just need to tie the three monkey’s fists and then its on to making the handle.
Since I mentioned it for the bellies I’ll also let you know that for the overlay the strand lengths wound up being bang on perfect with minimal excess.
Step 6: Crimson Fists
Alright so if you have ever tied a monkey’s fist this part should be pretty straight forward. The only special consideration to this application is that once the knot has been formed, all of the slack will need to be chased out in one direction so that the fist is positioned tight against the end of the tail. Then you just trim the excess off and melt the trimmed bit that is left behind in order to secure the cord and prevent anything from coming undone.
As mentioned a ways back, I’m going to use bouncy balls for the form at the center of each fist. The ones I’m using are about 28 millimeters in diameter. Also while I chose these because I figured they were going to be a little softer, after making a test piece and waxing it I can confirm that the end product is still rather solid and likely to hurt like hell if you’re careless.
If you haven’t tied a monkey’s fist before I’ll try to talk you through it, but its easier to follow along with a video so I’ll also link to a good video. For the size of bouncy ball I’m putting in the fists, these will need to be a five pass fist. To get this started, I’ll begin by forming five wraps around my hand. Next the bouncy ball can be paced in the center of those five passes. Once in place another five passes are wrapped the first set. Once the second set of five passes is in place then next set goes in between the first two passes and against the bouncy ball in the core. Next its just a matter of pulling out all of the slack and tightening the knot.
When taking the slack out of the knot its best to do it a little at a time so that the finished knot doesn’t come out uneven. In order to keep everything even its actually best to start by pulling the slack out of the third pass of the knot. Again you dont want to pull it tight, just snug it up. After that go ahead and go to the start of the first pass and work out all excess cord through the whole knot to the end. You’ll also want to pull the the slack from the start of the knot so that it sits right on the end of the tail. After working out the excess take your time and shift the cord around as needed to even everything out and then repeat the process to get the rest of the slack out of the knot. Then make another pass to pull it tight. Finish it off by cutting away all of the excess and then melting the last little fuzzy bit.
In the process of making this knot there was about two foot left over before the knot was tightened. After chasing out all of the slack and pulling it tight there was a little more than four foot left. So all of the extra length in the red cord of the belly was worth it, though a little bit of a pain to deal with in making everything. Also, with the excess trimmed off you can make them into falls to use on other whips later.
Step 7: The Handle
As I mentioned in my earlier ramblings, I had a lot of ideas for the handle. Casting resin that would then be turned on a lathe. Using a spent 20mm brass casing. Plaiting the handle like any other whip or with a separate color. But ultimately the one method that is going to be the easiest to pull off while still trying to hold to the original is to going to be CPVC.
The basic method with this style of handle is to use the CPVC pipe as the handle and a coupling as a socket that the thong will fit into. The two lengths of 550 hanging out the end of the thong will be passed through a hole in the socket out the side of the handle. Then we just tie the 550 cord with with a series of grape vine hitches. The rest of the handle will be done up with plaiting with a square start and then finished off with a heel knot. Oh, and also a paint job in there as well.
So the plan is to make the handle 8 inches, that should match pretty closely with what we see in show. But plaiting the last bit of the handle can be a pain with the strands hanging off the end of the pipe so we’ll start by cutting it to 10 inches, including the coupling on the end. That makes it an easy two inches to trim off the end once the plaiting it done. The next few things can be done in whatever order. The coupling needs to be glued in place, a hole needs to be drilled, and then its helpful to sand the everything for the paint to stick better.
For gluing the coupling in place you can use pretty much anything. Its a friction fit anyways and its not going to be holding pressure so you can get by with super glue or epoxy, but regular PVC cement is the best way to go. If you want to sand the pipe and coupling before gluing up that may be best but after glue up is fine too. For drilling the hole to pass the 550 through, start with a pilot hole and then size it up to about a quarter inch. Going a drill size smaller is fine, it’ll just take a little more effort to pull the cord through. The hole should be positioned right at the bottom of the coupling, go ahead and tilt the drill downward in order to to open the hole so that the cord can easily transition from the hole in the coupling to the pipe. Clean up the opening to get rid of rough edges. With all of that done, the next thing to do is just give it a paint job. A few minutes with a gold rattle can and its good to go. Because most of the handle is going to be plaited over with 550 cord you really only need to paint the business end.
Once the paint has had time to cure we’re ready to join the thong and the handle. For this step I like to use a length of steel wire to fish the 550 cord strands through the hole in the CPVC one at a time. With both lengths pulled through we can do a simple grape vine hitch. This is done by wrapping around the handle once and then passing the cord up through the loop that is formed by said wrap. The process is repeated, always wrapping the cord around in the same direction until a few inches of hitching is achieved. To tighten each wrap I recommend just pulling the strands side to side after pulling them through each newly formed loop, while also twisting the loop itself, to work out as much slack as possible. If needed a tool like a punch or a screwdriver can be used in a twisting motion to pull slack out of each wrap and get everything nice and tight, but this is really only needed if there is too much slack after it has been waxed. Once there is a few inches of wraps in place, you can just trim melt and fuse the loose strands and then its on to doing our square start.
For the rest of the handle I'm going to do a braided wrap the same as plaiting over the thong of a whip, except its going to start in the middle of the handle. The plait count is going to be 16 plait, and we're only covering about 5 inches of the handle. Just like with working out the strand lengths for the bellies and overlay we can take the length that the strands need to cover and then multiply by 4 to get our cut strand lengths. So in this case 5 inches times 4 is 20 inches, and then to give ourselves some slack to work with we can round up to two foot. And then for 16 plait we need 8 strands, and 8 strands times 2 foot each happens to work out to 16 feet total to budget for. That being said I'm going to go with strands that are 2 foot 6 inches, because paracord is cheap and so that I have a little more working length to make it easier to pull the strands around into place. Also before I start, I'm going to wrap the portion of the handle that is under the 550 with hockey tape in order to give it something to grip.
Initiating a square start can be a bit tricky, and it definitely something that I plan on practicing more in the future. Again its a tricky one to spell out and explain how to do so I'll link to the video that I learned it from. The part to watch starts at 1:50:15.
The basic principal though is that you lay out the eight strands on the handle and then just weave them together. To hold everything in place while getting it started I use a larger safety pin to hold all of the strands. Once I get to a point where most of the slack is out of the plaiting I can pull it out and keep going. The strands at the top get brought over the strands below and woven in with the rest until there is only one strand on top on each side. These strands then get brought around the back and woven into the rest, closing the weave all the way around the handle. From here the weave is now in a single strand diamond pattern.
This step is the trickiest part of getting the square start to look good. Gently pull a little slack out at a time while periodically pushing the strands into shape. Take your time with this part, because this is the part that determines how straight the woven start turns out. You'll also want to take this time to move the whole mess into position on the handle, once you start pulling tight this thing is not going to move. But before you get it too tight you want to keep working the slack out one strand at a time, as you go you'll pick up on which strand leads to the top of the weave so that you can work the slack out of those to get the start of the weave into the right shape. Once you have everything positioned and tightened you can shift to a whip makers herring bone pattern to complete the plaiting over the handle. To help you get a clean transition to the herring bone pattern you can refer to the template I used to make the transition at http://www.whipinfo.com/faceplait/?id=834429250c3c...
You'll want to keep going until the cord is completely off the end of the handle, and then use some hockey tape to keep everything from coming undone.
Once our plaiting is done and taped in place at the end of the handle, we can do a little binding with some artificial sinew just to hold everything a little more securely. Now at this point we can trim the excess cord away and then use a hacksaw to cut the CPVC tubing down to the finished handle length. If you want to hit the cut cord at the end with a little heat from your lighter you can to melt the paracord, just be careful to not set the CPVC ablaze, its not exactly a pleasant smell. From here the heel knot is basically the same as with any other whip. I do mine by binding in place a one inch wide strip of leather and then wrapping with some hockey tape. The hockey tape helps keep the lacing needle from getting under the fibers of the sinew while tying the heel knot. If you want to fashion a plug for the end of the CPVC you can. For the knot over the leather heel foundation I like doing a three pass 5x4 turks head knot woven into a globe knot. I'm a little bit of a one trick pony when it comes to a 550 cord heel knot and this one is pretty simple. You just get the first two passes of the 5x4 turks head in place, spacing everything out as you go along to keep it even. Then on the third pass you go in between the strands of the first two passes while doing the opposite of what they do, where they go over, you go under and visa versa. To see a good how to for tying this knot check out the video below starting at the time stamp 2:04:00.
Once the heel knot is done the next step is waxing the whip.
Step 8: Waxing the Finished Whip
Waxing the whip is pretty straight forward but there are some details to be aware of. First off this step is always optional. Especially for something that is going to be a prop for cosplay, its not vital that the whip be waxed because its not going to see the same kind of use a typical whip might otherwise see. That being said waxing the whip has a lot of benefits. The heat from waxing the whip will cause the nylon of the paracord to shrink slightly, tightening everything up and making the plaiting look a little cleaner. The wax also waterproofs the whip to a large degree, so if it gets wet it'll dry out faster. The wax also reduces the friction between between all the strands of cord, allowing everything to flow more naturally. Lastly it also adds mass to the whip. If it was a whip that was actually able to be cracked, this would make the whip a tiny bit louder. But in the case of this whip, that doesn't really matter. Now for a whip that may be used as a prop with a costume, its important to know that it will make the colors of the whip darker, just like how cloth like materials get darker when they get wet except more permanent.
To wax the whip you just need a container that is big enough to fit the whip in it, that can be heated to 200+ degrees freedomheight, and hold enough wax to submerge the entire whip. To accomplish this I am using a counter top roaster oven that holds 18 quarts. I picked this one up from Walmart for about $30 over the holidays last year. The wax that I am using is just paraffin wax, you can get it from grocery stores in the canning supplies section or from craft stores that have candle making supplies. I recommend getting 15 - 20 pounds of wax. For my wax I also added some petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) to make the wax a little softer. This prevents the wax from flaking off of the whip after it comes out of the wax and cools. This addition to the wax is totally optional.
Typically I heat my wax to about 250 degrees for waxing my whips. The higher temp helps make the wax thinner so that it soaks into the whip more easily. Nylon has a melting temp closer to 400 degrees so typically pushing the temp is not a big deal. That being said, wax is flammable, so do not push the temp too high and make sure you are being safe. For this whip, DO NOT push the temp over 200F. Because we are using a CPVC handle we need to keep the temp at or under 200. CPVC starts getting soft around 200 - 220 and we dont want to botch our handle, if the wax temp is too high the tension in the grapevine hitching will deform the handle (not that I've ever had that happen to me or anything).
Go ahead and load up your wax and slowly bring it up to temp. Once it is holding at 180 - 200 degrees, carefully lower the whip into the wax. Make sure that the entire whip is completely submerged into the wax. For this whip, five minutes or so in the wax should be fine. For many of my other whips I usually give them 20 minutes or more, to allow the wax and the heat to soak into the whip. This whip also wanted to float in the wax so I used the rack that the roaster oven came with to weigh it down. After the whip has had time for the wax to work its magic, carefully lift the whip from the hot wax and use some kind of rag or towel to soak up the excess wax on the outside of the whip. When pulling the whip out of the wax I like to be wearing gloves, typically nitrile gloves over cotton glove liners, that way I can handle the whip directly while its still hot. I like to then hang up the whip to allow it to cool. When the whip comes out of the wax it may be a bit stiff, you can straighten it out while its still hot or allow it to cool first. After it has had time to cool, go ahead and flex it back and forth a bit in order to soften up the wax that has hardened in the whip. After flexing it the whip will be able to flow naturally.
I did run into an issue while waxing this whip. This was my first time using this particular gold paint and while waxing the whip, well, it all came off. And now the CPVC is covered in wax so painting it again is going to be tricky. Also worth noting that the paracord would have shrunk some while in the wax so getting it to tighten up again would be a matter of manually pulling it tight. Which means that remaking the handle and then attaching the thong, while possible, may not turn out the best. So what I wound up doing was cleaning off the wax from the coupling at the transition end of the handle and then masked off the thong and repainted it. Cleaning up paraffin wax is actually just a simple matter of using some alcohol. Alcohol dissolves the wax so you can strip it off of the CPVC and have a clean surface to paint on. To mask it off I started with wrapping the paracord with Reynolds wrap followed by masking tape. With everything I dont want painted covered up, I painted the exposed CPVC with some new paint I picked up. After a few hours to cure its all done.
And now at this point the whip is finished and ready to be put to use. Other whips would just need the popper (or cracker) attached to the end of the fall at this point in the process but this whip doesn't have a fall at all. So now that its finished you're ready to add it to your ThunderCats collection and show off your hard work to friends and family.
Step 9: Closing Thoughts
While I have made whips with the three tails before and whips that attach to the CPVC handle before, this is my first time bringing together a lot of these techniques in a single whip, on top of making the monkey's fists at the ends of the tails. So I have some thoughts that may be worth while if I were to attempt to make this whip again or if you decide to make this whip yourselves.
Fitting the thong into the socket formed by the CPVC coupling may work a little better if some material is removed from the inside of the coupling. But if too much is removed then it could turn out a little floppy.
Making the monkey's fists is all about taking your time with working out the slack. On one of them I was excited to get it finished and it resulted in gaps. Once the excess cord is trimmed away the knot can't be retied. Also different cord melts differently, with this red cord it tuns a dark burnt color really fast. If I was to make this again I would leave an inch of cord hanging out of the monkey's and then just trim it away after waxing the whip. The tension in the knot and the adhesion of the wax should keep it from coming undone.
At the ends of the tails I should have tried a tying the fall hitch knots a few different ways to see what works best. With these I just dont care for how the monkey's fists kinda flop to one side because the tag ends of the fall hitch push it to the side. I think next time I would tie the hitches with the strands going towards the tails in stead of towards the fist.
I think it would have been just fine to taper the whip a little faster. The thickness that the whip has where it attaches to the handle is actually alright and it seams like an ok fit, but in stead of waiting 30 inches to taper the whip slightly I could have only waited 10 inches and then began to taper it. This would have made the whole thing lighter and made it look just a little better.
As I'm looking at the finished product, I think the tails could have been a little shorter, something like 6 to 8 inches, in stead of a foot. Its not a big deal, just an esthetic preference.
I should have been more selective with the paint that I used. The paint I first used dissolved while it was in the wax. The paint that I used on another whip didn't have this issue so I didn't think it would be an issue with this one. The second can of paint I used turned out looking better anyways.
Ultimately I was excited to finish this one and just see how it would turn out, so I rushed it a little. Had I taken my time there are some finer details that would have turned out better. As a proof of concept though I accomplished what I wanted to do. Maybe you can take this guide and make something a little finer.
Overall I'm pleased with how this whip turned out. It was an excuse to try some ideas I had as well as share some other whip making techniques here on Instructables. If you liked this build and you haven't checked out my other posts you definitely should. I've got ideas for other things that I want to try and I'll post more as I make other one offs.
1 year ago
Really awesome work!!
1 year ago on Introduction
Absolutely awesome reproduction ! Almost like you reached into my kitchen and took it right out of the small TV we used to watch Thunder cats on with the kiddos !!! Thanks for sharing your vision & incredible talent !!!